Guilty. I’m confessin’ ya’ll. I’ve eye rolled the gym when it’s crowded. I’ve sighed LOUDLY while sitting and waiting for a squat rack that was being taken over by curls and kippy looking pull up things. I have whined audibly about January in the gym. I’ve also worked for big ass gym corporations that make their money off the people who sign up for memberships the 1st of the year but never come.
Don’t act like you haven’t been there. If you’re a gym ‘pro’ or gym ‘bro’ you once had a first day. Writing this hearkened me back to high school, roaming around my local YMCA, hiding from people I thought might know my parents and picking machines that matched the body part I was currently dissatisfied with. And hiding from tan people that might aggressively act like this…
It’s funny though.
Ugh. The years I wasted because I was too embarrassed to ask someone for help.
But what if we actually extended a warm welcome to those dreaded newcomers and encouraged them instead? Or at least weren’t obviously annoyed by them. Only about 20% of US residents have gym memberships. And they don’t all use them. It’s no secret that big gyms market big to the ‘resolutioner’ crowd and that they profit even bigger. The Washington Post told us all about it yesterday. Hell, we’d probably have bigger nicer gyms if people were coming and utilizing equipment and services. Just sayin.
The gym can be a sanctuary. It can be a weird place. It’s a scary unfamiliar place for someone who has decided they want to make a change. Once they’ve walked in there is a small chance they’ll stick with it unless they feel successful. Remind the newbies if they’re looking at you ‘mirin, or to you with ALL the questions, that it’s a process. That there are more hard workouts than easy ones. Extend a smile instead of judgement.
Have patience because, yes, you too once looked awkward in the gym and tried to compensate with bright pants, cool sneakers and an air of nonchalance. I still compensate with obnoxious pants. In and out of the gym.
If you’ve figured it out by now, remind them that strength is a skill built and enhanced by practice and purposeful training over time. That they’ll too, eventually get to a place where they aren’t going through motions from a magazine or just killin their ‘‘workout’. That it gets better. Help create a gym culture where it’s easier to find articles about warm welcomes than how to chase away the newbs.